And….They’re Off!

   

Our school year has finally begun!  And not a moment too soon, I think.  I had a difficult time doing much of anything this summer for some reason.  Mike had a hard time picking up the slack because he was under extreme stress from work and worry for the health of his parents.  So the girls had a massively high level of cabin fever and were ready to be among their own people, having recess and music, art and STEAM.  Even if it meant homework and getting up early on purpose.  
 

Our geeklet

Rachael is in 3rd grade, which is insane, and I refuse to accept it.  She’s approaching tweendom, with the rolling of the eyes, the annoyed attitude, and the noticing of boys.  After Back to School Night and Open House, I was a bit concerned over whether Rachael would have a good year.  And by a bit concerned, I mean I was kind of panicking and burst into an ugly cry after we got the girls into bed that night.  I had heard that third grade was a big jump from second grade, but after her teacher’s presentation all I could think was, Oh my god!  This is where the magic of learning comes to die.  I was also completely turned off when her teacher announced that there was no excuse for failing to complete the homework for each night.  After all, if she can teach all day and take classes at night to earn her doctorate, then our families are certainly able to ensure that our children complete their homework.  Look, I don’t have a problem with insisting on homework completion; that’s not the issue here.  Her seemingly myopic view of reality, in which she seemed to preemptively take offense at the notion that we all don’t have our shit together, (because she has hers together) just gets my back up.  Believe it or not, it is actually rather hard to squeeze in time for homework when you only have four hours to do a combination of the following: have a snack and recover from your day; spend time in time out for rolling eyes at mom/talking and/or screaming back; any after-school clubs and activities; dance class; dinner; chores; parents can’t help you read a word in your homework because your younger sister is having a complete meltdown; shower; read before bed.  But, I’m trying to let it go, (obviously, because I’m blogging about it) and hope that this is just a case of a not so great first impression.  Rachael seems to really like her. Also, they’re going to be studying rocks and soil this year, which is totally in Rachael’s wheelhouse, especially after just having gone to geology camp a couple of weeks ago.

I also hope that Rachael will work at establishing some more friendships this year.  Rachael is such a shy introvert that, prior to this year, she’s really only put her time and effort into her one best friend.  Unfortunately, her best friend is going to the gifted and talented elementary school this year.  Rachael will still see and play with her, as they just live around the corner.  She complained last year of feeling lonely.  I have explained to her over and over again that it’s fine to be an introvert, but if you want someone to be friends and want to play with you, you have to put in the effort now.  You actually have to speak to people and try to engage with them.  I asked her if she played with anyone at recess yesterday.  She said no, she did her own thing.  “But, I talked with people at lunch and at my table in class.  Happy?”  This morning, I introduced her to the older brother of Zoë’s new kindergarten best friend.  He is also in third grade, and doesn’t know many people because he has been homeschooled prior to this year.  I figured, he needs a new friend, she needs a new friend, win win win.  Right?  Guys, if the scowls little girls give could kill, I wouldn’t be typing this.  

A little anxious, but ready to go!

In the days leading up to the first day of school, I had never seen Zoë so anxious about anything.  Maybe because it was one of the few times when she managed to put her fears into words, rather than simply acting out.  Oddly enough, she was really focused on worry over not being able to operate the computers and their programs correctly.  I think she felt a bit of relief once we met her teachers and saw her classroom.  Fun fact: although she has a teacher who is new to the school, it’s the same classroom Rachael was in for kindergarten and the same assistant teacher!  I’m thankful for the teacher Zoë has.  She’s been teaching for 20 years, holds degrees in both general and special education, and has four children of her own.  So, just like the Femputer on Futurama, she know what do.  There will be an additional special education teacher in the room to assist Zoë.  While Zoë is fine, academically, for kindergarten, she does have an IEP for ADHD and the social behavioral issues which stem from that disorder.  So we feel like she’s in really good hands and feel good about our decision to send her on to kindergarten.

It was exciting on Back to School Night to find out that a friend from Zoë’s preschool class would be in her class this year!  Zoë was also introduced to another little girl by her teacher that night who, lo and behold, we found at our bus stop yesterday!  They were so excited to see each other!  I know it made Zoë’s apprehensiveness, with regard to riding the bus, lower just a bit.  Once the bus came, Zoë knew the drill and dutifully walked toward the bus steps.  I practically had to grab her in order to kiss her goodbye because she was so focused on her mission.  At the bottom of the steps, she paused and looked up at the driver hesitantly.  With some gentle encouragement from the driver, Zoë almost literally climbed those huge bus steps.  Mike and I watched Zoë and her friend as they tried to figure out where they should sit, finally settling on the seat behind the driver.  And, in all the chaos and focusing on Zoë, Mike and I failed as parents and accidentally didn’t say goodbye to Rachael.  I made sure to give her extra hugs and attention when they got home.

Zoë was exhausted when she came home.  She had had a great first day of kindergarten!  She was terribly excited to have gone to the library and checked out her first book, Silverlicious.  (Okay, I like the Pinkalicious series, but can we all agree that Pinkalicious is a giant brat, and it’s probably because her parents never seem to punish her for bad behavior?)  The class took a tour of the school, under the pretense of looking for the mouse from, If You Bring a Mouse to School.  Zoë giggled as she showed me the movements they learned during the movement activities her class did, forming a potato with her arms over her head, and then peeling the potato one arm at a time.  She made a fish tail with her hands on her lower back and wiggled her toush, demonstrating how the students maintain their personal space in line.  As Zoë chattered on and on about the things they did at school, her new best friend from class and the bus stop, and how she wanted to make a pretend school classroom of her own, it was clear that her anxiety about kindergarten had been dropped on the ground and left behind.  After all, she had better things to do.

Mike told them to make a silly face.

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An Update in Pictures…and Words

Image via howtogeek.com

I have to be honest; I didn’t really feel like writing this morning.  Or lately.  Mike and the girls are at church on this cool, dreary day, and all I want to do is drink coffee, eat pumpkin donut holes, read Harry Potter, and get off my lawn!, etc. etc.  So I’m totally phoning this one in, but I felt like updating y’all on my life.  

We adopted two little, fluffy girls at the beginning on August.  We had been talking about getting cat(s) for awhile, but wanted to wait for a slightly less inconvenient time.  The timetable to move up the adoption to now from Mike holding off on it indefinitely came about as a result of my well-reasoned argument of, “Fluffy kitties will cure my fibro,” and big, sad eyes.  

  
We ended up adopting Bridgette, a 3 year old black shorthair, originally from the island of St. Thomas, and Sweetie Belle, a 5 month old gray tabby, from King Street Cats in Alexandria, VA. They’re an all volunteer, no kill shelter, and are fabulous.  Mike really wanted a black cat.  He grew up having two black cats, and also wanted to give a black cat a good home, as black cats are adopted the least. Why?  Because we’re a nation of superstitious numbskulls. She was very shy the first time we went, but hopped into Mike’s lap and adopted him the second time.  Sweetie Belle, née Thunder, adopted me.  She jumped into my lap, curled up, and went to sleep.  Now, we hadn’t intended to get a kitten, but I made a well-reasoned argument that Bridgette didn’t seem to like me, and it was pointless to get a cat if it didn’t like me, too.  On top of that… 

 
Adding them to our family has not been without its stresses. They didn’t totally get along for the first couple of weeks.  Time, our cat whisperer, Holly, and a Feliway pheromone diffuser have now made them cats who sniff and lick each other and pummel each other with sibling affection.   Otherwise, having cats has been easy. (Besides Belle feeling the need to eat and climb on everything.) Having cats and Zoë has been a challenge. Zoë is very much like Darla from Finding Nemo. She feels the need to chase both the cats, get in their faces, pick them up or pet them like she’s trying to juice an orange, and doesn’t understand why they run from her because she’s certain that they love her. So yelling at her constantly to leave the cats alone is a teensy bit stressful.

And now, for your entertainment, I present cat videos!

 

 
Peekaboo!


Lay down and take your bath like a man, dammit!

School Daze

Both girls are finally back to school. Rachael began second grade and lost her first tooth.   

How did this happen?

 
I felt completely unprepared and freaked out about school beginning again.  She seems to be enjoying her class, and she hasn’t, as far as I’m aware, cut her hair or hidden under her desk like the beginning of last year.  She also hasn’t had any homework yet, so I’m pretty sure I’m just being lulled into a false sense of security.  Zoë had a good first two days at preschool and has a few friends from her class last year in there.  Plus she hasn’t burned anything down yet, so that’s a plus.  

The Bitch is Back

By July, I was in a good place: my pain was at an all-time low and my energy was at an all-time high.  So, naturally, that’s not the case now at all.  I stopped going to acupuncture because it was almost $400 per month to go every week.  Shortly after I began treatment, my acupuncturist began accepting insurance from the company with which we are insured.  But, of course, our plan doesn’t cover acupuncture.  I need to start going back a couple times per month, though, because it seems like acupuncture was the key to reducing my pain and increasing my energy, which annoys the fuck out of me for some reason.  I say it seems to be the key because it was the only thing that changed over the summer.  My meds didn’t change.  I was still going to physical therapy 1-2 times per week.  Yet, my neck and back began aching all the time.  The pain in my feet and legs forced me to hobble to my destination upon standing.  My pain was waking me up at night. My morning stiffness, or as Mike jokes- pain boner, wasn’t eased by stretching. My energy has plummeted, forcing me to take accidental naps during the day.  

I am really thankful for physical therapy.  I highly recommend The Jackson Clinic, especially the clinics that offer aqua therapy.  The therapists were warm, supportive, and would genuinely get excited for my progress.  They never pushed me past my limits and really listened to me.  My strength and flexibility significantly increased between the spring and the end of August, when I was graduated.  I’m now able to shave my legs without feeling the need to amputate at the knees.  When I began PT, it was hard work for me to lie down and tighten my core while pushing down on an exercise ball with my arms for five reps.  Now I’m able to step up on a box and balance on one leg while pushing/pulling a resistance band for 15 reps on each leg.  I learned how much orthotic inserts for my shoes eased the pain of walking and exercise.  (Of course, every time I read or hear the word “orthotic”, I hear Hank Hill saying it in the episode when he learns he has no ass and needs an orthotic so he can sit without pain.) Even squats, which have always killed my knees, became painless.  They also showed me how changing my posture relieved a lot of pain in my lower back.  Tuck that booty and tighten that core, people!  Unfortunately, I couldn’t really sit with the posture they wanted from me, as it caused me to feel like I had weighted meat hooks stuck in my shoulder blades.  

So, what have you all been up to?